A Five-Star Year: Best Books of 2018 (According to Me)

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I’ve seen a number of “Best of” book lists this week, and I always wonder how my list would stack up against the others in any given year. This year, I used a friend’s recommendation to review my Goodreads.com list, and when I looked, I found many books that received my rare “5-Star” rating (maybe not-so-rare, then). Just a note, there happens to be 20 titles on the list. I didn’t limit the list to 20; it just worked out that way.

Other notes of importance for readers…

Before I show you my “Best of 2018” list, please know that I read many books this year, and that most of them I rated “4-Star” reads. I usually like the books I read (I don’t abandon often), so I have a tremendous amount of “recommended” books. I wrote a post, #MustReadin2018″ and many of the books I read are not on this “Best of” list. To narrow this “Best of” list, I chose only the “5-Star” books from my Goodreads account. Also, I limited this list to the “5-Star” books that were published in 2018. I categorized these titles by format, but I don’t have them in any particular order. Here they are:

Picture Books — Yes, this list is heavy on the picture books. I successfully used these books at school, and/or my PD sessions, “Picture Books are Perfect for Middle School” and I highly recommend them.

Dreamers by Yuyi Morales

Alma and How She Got Her Name by Juana Martinez-Neal

The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson

What If… by Samantha Berger

Mixed: A Colorful Story by Arree Chung

A Seed Is the Start by Melissa Stewart

The Rough Patch by Brian Lies

The Brilliant Deep: Rebuilding the World’s Coral Reefs by Kate Messner

Mission Defrostable by Josh Funk

Drawn Together by Minh Lê

The Word Collector by Peter H. Reynolds

Got to Get to Bear’s by Brian Lies

What Do You Do With a Voice Like That? The Story of Extraordinary Congresswoman Barbara Jordan by Chris Barton

Graphic Novels — Graphic novels are becoming a favorite in school and here at home. These two titles stayed with me.

Speak: The Graphic Novel by Laurie Halse Anderson (illustrated by Emily Carroll)

Hey, Kiddo by Jarrett J. Krosoczka

Professional Texts — I’m always reading to learn, and these PD books really did change the way I think.

Being the Change: Lessons and Strategies to Teach Social Comprehension by Sara K. Ahmed

Game Changer! Book Access for All Kids by Donalyn Miller and Colby Sharp

Fiction/YA/MG — These stories captured my heart and stuck with me.

Loser’s Bracket by Chris Crutcher

In Sight of Stars by Gae Polisner

Rebound by Kwame Alexander

Have a Happy New Year! I look forward to reading with you in 2019.


Review of REBOUND by Kwame Alexander (due April 2, 2018)

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Rebound, the prequel to the Newbery-Winning title, The Crossover, by Kwame Alexander, tells of childhood days of Charlie “Chuck” Bell (Josh and Jordan’s father). At the age of 12, Charlie had already experienced love and loss, carrying much baggage to his grandparent’s house in the summer of 1988. “It was the summer when Now and Laters cost a nickel, and The Fantastic Four a buck. When I met Harriet Tubman and the Harlem Globetrotters…”

Charlie retells his story for his sons (and the reader) of those not-so-and-absolutely glorious days — playing basketball with Roxie, his cousin, and Skinny, his best friend, in the summer heat, dealing with the heat from Grandpa and the weather, and wishing that he could be a Fantastic Four super hero star. Charlie gains knowledge about his family tree, about basketball moves (such as the crossover — get it?), and about consequences of getting into trouble. Charlie even changes his name — to Chuck (thanks, Grandpa) — that summer, and in a series of poetic episodes, finds out what it means to be a true star. He has to learn to REBOUND, on and off the court.

Kwame Alexander’s vocabulary lessons continue in Rebound, as well as his lessons about family, life, and love. I couldn’t tell how the stories would weave together at first, but Kwame expertly spins, twists, and turns the plot, and in the end, I yelled, “Swish!” out loud! Fans of Kwame Alexander’s rhythmic style will love the references to other works, including The Crossover, Solo, and the now-famous sing-along song, “Be A Star.”

Rebound IS the star of this spring’s book season. A MUST to add to your reading “Playbook.”

Picture Books are for Everyone! January 12, 2018 Reviews


If you ever hear someone say picture books are just for kids, don’t listen! Read these picture books. You’ll be glad you opened your heart.

Wolf in the Snow, by Matthew Cordell. (Feiwel and Friends, 2017)

Matthew Cordell doesn’t need words to convey the message of empathy, love, and kindness in this Caldecott nominee for 2018. I felt so much — for the humans and the wolves — in this story about being lost in the snow. A small child waves goodbye to her school friends, and begins her walk home. A pack of wolves also sets out around the same time, with a little one struggling to keep up in the blowing snow. Both the small girl and the small wolf become lost as the pages turn white. What happened next pulled at my “mom” heartstrings.This is a MUST READ book for all ages.


Love, by Matt de la Peña. Illustrated by Loren Long. (G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 2018)

I LOVE this book! Love is NOT just red roses and pink hearts, and Matt de la Peña and Loren Long focus on the daily definitions of love in this beautiful new book. There is love when you play in the sprinklers, when you hide from parents who fight, when you fish with grandpa. There is love in flowers, laughter, and rain puddles. There is love, even when you cannot find love and you try, try, try. Enjoy the sounds, smells, and colors of LOVE and share the book, and your love, with everyone.



#MustReadIn2018 My List So Far…

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